RELIGIOUS STUDIES Lecture Notes January 24
Regardless how many murtis or temples or locations murtis are
located, each one represents the god as a whole.
PUJA: DOMESTIC WORSHIP
one of the most important way practitioners show their devotion
to the gods or teachers they worship.
Puja are simplified versions of rituals done in the temple, done
in the home.
Sometimes even led by women.
● worshipping before altar
● offering foods
● burning incense
● lighting lamps
perhaps the most important preoccupation in the religion itself.
Hindus care about everything having to do with food and eating:
● where ● when
● what order
● who gets left overs
● how cooked
● how eaten
*NOT ALL HINDUS ARE VEGETARIANS
strictest vegetarians are VAISHNAVAS
BRAHMINS are also usually vegetarians
COWS and PHEASANTS are never eaten. they may drink the milk of a
DIETARY PROHIBITIONS AND REGULATIONS REFLECTS A BELIEF THAT FOOD
some foods are AUSPICIOUS, lucky, good omens
some foods are INAUSPICIOUS
some foods are pure and encourage spiritual growth
some foods give you sloth
The AUSPICIOUS / INAUSPICIOUS is not karma. it extends beyond
food as well.
FOODS THAT ENCOURAGE SLOTH:
mainly STALE FOODS and ALCOHOL
foods don't just reflect the nature of the food itself, but also
the people who prepare it. if the person is inauspicious, it
will be transferred through the food.
PRASADA: the devoted food, divinely blessed.
THE ANNUAL FESTIVAL CYCLE: most popular is actually deity birthdays
one in every month.
NAVARATRI is a type of women's festival. celebrated in MANY
differnt ways all over India. It is in the month before Deepvali
DEEPVALI celebrates a new year(for some). Celebrated near 15th
of OCT and 14th of NOV. lights, firecrackers.
these follow a lunar calendar
the meaning of these differ all over India. different
communities celebrate these festivals in different way.
What purposes do rites of passage serve?
Hinduism says that life should be lived in an orderly manner,
passing through stages at certain times to complete your dharma.
Rites of passage is VITALLY IMPORTANT, indicates a sense of
belonging to the group, saying you are a member of this
INHERENTLY CONNECTED TO DHARMA
important to remember:
1. life-cycle rituals are NOT pan-hindu. even those that are
nearly ubiquitous do not have the same importance in all
2. important to know that the vedas and different texts omit
many of the women's rites of passages. they happened, they just
weren't recorded since these texts were written by men.
if life-cycle rituals are so diverse, why consider them in
despite the fact that these rites are different all over
india and not ubiquitous, we will look at some because WE HAVE TO START SOMEWHERE.
LIFE CYCLE RITES BEGIN PRE-CONCEPTION!
BIRTH RITUALS: begin before conception and extend to the birth
the exact moment the child is born is recorded for cosmology and
prayers are said and blessigns are given and the child is named.
a large variety of childhood rituals like the departure of the
birthing room, eating of solid foods, ear piercing, hair
cutting. but the birth rituals, of all childhood rituals, are
traditionally for males in three highest. initiates boy into
study. called UPANAYANA. also known as THE INVESTITURE WITH THE
SACRED THREAD. some scholars think this is the most important of
all life-cycle rituals. only really used in the brahmin
community today. efforts to get girls in there today. it's
believed that this ritual provides boys with a second birth, one
into sacred knowledge and the realization of important
knowledge: like true self, body self, atman, brahman. it can be
very very expensive. separation from maternal connection. when
prepared for the ritual, their clothing is removed, their heads
shaved but for a little tail in the back. try to make them look
like babies. given all sorts of objects symbolic of ascetic
practices. one is a SACRED THREAD draped over the shoulder.
other items may vary, but thread is consistent.
necessary to repay debts (to gods (paid by marriage), and
ancestors (paid by child)). man needs to get married to liberate soul. the householder stage plays a huge importance cause most
of your life is in this stage. so the highest calling for a
woman is the dharma of the faithful wife. there are no
upanayanas for girls^, so marriage is the moment when women
enter their spiritual life. it also marks both partners as
beginning their householder stage. polygamist marriages were not
uncommon at one time. in 1976, the offical law of india was that
it PROMOTED monogomy, so there's some room for that still but it
isn't common. Scriptures call wives companions and partners (not
servants or possessions). arranged marriages are less common
today than assumed. Horoscopes are checked. Marriages were
between not just two people but two families. in the past, just
parents did the search for partners, but now there are non-
profits and marriage bureaus and services to help hook people up.
THERE IS NO RELIGIOUS SANCTION FOR A DOWRY. it is actually
illegal now but